Vidyan Ravinthiran teaches at the University of Birmingham, and is an editor at Prac Crit, the online magazine of poetry and poetics, as well as the author of Elizabeth Bishop's Prosaic (Bucknell, 2015), winner of both the University English Prize and the Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism. His first book of poems, Grun-tu-molani (Bloodaxe, 2014), was shortlisted for first collection prizes including the Forward, and poems towards his next, The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here, won a Northern Writers Award. He also writes literary journalism, most recently for Poetry (verse) and The Telegraph (fiction), and is represented as an author of fiction by the Wylie Agency.
We’re moving on
– Our fourth move in as many years.
Where and for what will we ever settle?
The clothes horse is chockablock; as we ball
our rainbow of socks into pairs
I want to hold the moment, gently as a petal,
between my finger and thumb. But this house
is home to you, and so you have it worse;
a loved nook that will leave a bruise.
– Where I can look at you is where my home is.
As we uproot blade-clogging moss
(will our next place have a garden?),
you mention my brother-in-law. He’s brown-green
colourblind: my sister’s flesh is grass.
The odour of summer climbs into bed with us.
I take both Blakes – Daniel, and William –
at their word. One of them imagined
a place where no dispute could ever come.
Your engagement ring you’ve left behind
to keep both you and it from harm. The band
meets in Byker, where it’s grim. Blake
grappled with an abstruse system
heroically. You searched online for others; found them.
Each time you’d rather stay at home with me
but don’t. That’s innocence. That’s experience. Tony,
a paramedic, is your lift back
to the station. He once retrieved a stillbirth from a toilet bowl.
Some to misery are born. The image is engraved.
Lines the burin made – your violin strings – begin to howl.
claims eczema like yours, that comes and goes
like ambition or lust or cloud-shadow on gorse
is its own explanation. The body’s morse
for hurts words cannot touch. I’ve
scratched – you disapprove – these ant
bites to raw calderas – moats of hives;
red, flashing buttons. When I can sleep I can’t
help it! You dab cream on the ankle-cyst
the doctor wishes to excise and send away
despite the sunshield of my pigment.
Just in case. Are the cells I am given
to friendly fire? Civil war is what cancer is,
a suborning of one’s own deep forces.
Your moles amaze me like stars in the sky.
– they’ve an agenda, of course – couples
read instead of having sex. To read in bed
is to be alone, and timorous, in that place
their tingling bodies should be wed.
Cinema requires its shorthand, its givens
that sum us up in just so many scenes.
But I can’t stand the director’s knowing look
for when we sit together, both with a book,
solitudes meld, as when we fuck; lamplight
warms the thigh-smooth page. If a bit
is beautiful, or bad, or funny, we read it out.
Turning the page, you laugh, leaving me
to ask what’s going on, or not – lingering
like a passionfruit’s long, gum-piercing, pang.